Picture of Rabbi Steven Z. Leder

Rabbi Steven Z. Leder

I am ashamed of the URJ’s Iraq resolution

I don\’t embarrass easily. But the Union for Reform Judaism\’s (URJ) recent resolution calling for an \”expeditious withdrawal of United States troops from Iraq\” did the trick.

Washington, D. C.: Progress on both sides of the aisle

Sixty years after Roosevelt, thanks to hard work and commitment by generations of American Jews, Betsy and I stood next to a mashgiach in the White House kitchen during a time in America when nearly all politicians of import have a profound respect for the role American Jews play in our society.

The Way of Madness

The idea of one Jew killing another is shocking. Most of us think it never happens — but the truth is that it does. It happens this week in the Torah with Pinchas. After seeing a Jew apparently enticed by a Midianite prostitute, Pinchas runs them both through with his spear.

It happened when the Macabbees saw a Jew publicly bowing down to a statue of Zeus in the town of Modin. It happened during the American Civil War, World War I and when the State of Israel was founded. Most recently, as most of us painfully recall, it happened when a young, deranged Orthodox Jew named Yigal Amir assassinated then Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. Ironically, it was this week\’s Torah portion and the character of Pinchas that some of the most extreme Jews used as a justification for the assassination

Dead Right

I met Bob and Susie at the end of a float plane trip deep in the Alaskan wilderness. Most of the year they live on a 40-foot boat surrounded by nothing but forest and water.

Father’s Day

\”Rabbi, do you make house calls?\” the man named Mike on the other end of the phone wanted to know. \”My dad was never religious, but he said he\’d like to see a rabbi before he dies. He\’s living with us now, and he can\’t get out any more. Please?\”

The address was on a winding, urban, L.A. canyon road. I knocked, and Mike let me in.

\”Dad, the rabbi is here to talk to you,\” he said loudly over his shoulder.

Torah Truths

It\’s neither new nor shocking to most of us that the earth is round or that the Torah isn\’t a history book dictated to Moses by God on Mount Sinai.

Happy Mother’s Day

Dear Mom, I write to you again this Mother\’s Day. But this time, a little wiser and more grateful for you; more grateful because now I have two children of my own.

Being Perfect

Consider the lyrics of Cheryl Wheeler\’s song \”Unworthy\”:

An Acquired Taste

A friend told me about a scene he witnessed recently at a delicatessen. There was a woman who apparently was not Jewish standing in line at the bakery counter. When they called her number she pointed to the prune and poppy seed hamantaschen and asked for a dozen.
\”No, you want these,\” said the elderly Jewish woman who was serving her, pointing to the apricot hamantaschen instead.

\”No, I want those,\” the woman reiterated pointing again to the prune and poppy seed variety.


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